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Cloning fruit and nut trees and woody shrubs

 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Cloning is one of the methods of propagation that most people use with out even knowing they are.
It can be as involved as taking just a few cells or even just a single cell and producing a complete organism from this tiny amount of material. For the purpose here I will not get into the involved methods of propagation from a cell or group of cells. Most of us have access to larger pieces of the plants we wish to reproduce and that will be the focus of this writing.

If you have a fruit tree that produces large quantities of very delicious fruit, it would be advantageous to have more than one of that particular tree. If it is a grafted tree, then you may need to evaluate whether or not the roots of the graft are strong enough to support the same traits you want to duplicate. If it turns out they aren't then you would need to obtain the proper root stock and graft scions just as the nursery did in the first place. Most fruit trees have adequate root systems to fend off diseases and pests but there are a few that don't, these few are the best candidates to be grafted.

To grow a new tree, say from a pruned branch, you will need a few items that will insure the success of the effort you put into growing the new tree. First you will need a pot large enough to support the new root system for about a year, this is usually a 3 to 5 gallon container. Second you will need a good growing medium that is capable of supporting the tree or plant as it grows new roots and leaves. This can be as simple as vermiculite or as complex as a custom blended potting soil. Usually any medium can be used, I prefer to use a commercial potting soil that contains little in the way of fertilizer, this allows you to be in control of what nutrients the fledgling roots receive and when they receive it. Third you will need a rooting hormone to help speed the process of root growing. The primary hormone responsible for root formation is auxin, which includes two naturally occurring acids that stimulate growth: indole-3-acetic acid -- IAA -- and indole-3-butyric acid -- IBA. Commercial rooting hormone powders and liquids contain synthetic auxins that mimic these naturally occurring plant hormones. If you dip a cutting into a solution that contains either of these acids, the hormone promotes tissue growth that develops into roots. While there are many of these available commercially, the best ones are liquid based instead of a powder and of the liquid hormone products, the best one overall is made by the user and is all natural.

All Willow species contain indolebutyric acid (IBA). These trees can be found in USDA zones 2-9 around the world. If there is a Salix variety in your country, you have the base for the best rooting solution. The key to making a viable solution from Salix is to have enough fresh material since it is easier to extract the indolebutyric acid and there is a larger quantity of it in fresh new growth than in hardened growth. To make one gallon of hormone solution you will need three cups of this material. The part we want to collect is the bark and cambium layers of the new growth. This is cut off in thin strips no shorter than 1 inch and ideally about 3 inches in length and no wider than 1/8 inch. Once you have produced enough of these strips it is time to steep them. In a container that is at least 1.5 gallons in volume, place the willow bark strips and cover with one gallon of boiling ionized water. This is covered and left to steep for 48 hours and then strained to remove the remnants of the bark strips. At this point you have a potent solution but it can be further evaporated with gentle heat (below the simmering point) to concentrate it further.

To use your fresh solution cut your scion branches and prep the basal 4-6 inches by removing any leaves and then making slits in the bark. These prepared scions are placed in a container of your willow solution and left to soak for one to two hours after which you plant them into your growing container. The growing medium (potting soil or vermiculite) is pressed semi firmly around the scion after which you water in and cover with either a plastic tent or a glass bell jar to hold the humidity around the scion. The newly planted scion stock is then placed in a space that has dappled shade for the first week. At the second week remove the bell and check the soil, it should be damp but not soaking wet. Replace the bell and continue with a weekly check. When you see new leaf buds opening you can remove the bell and place in a more sunny location, you still want the plants to receive some shade time but not full dappled shade.

After one or two months after new leaf growth has occurred, you can move the newly rooted plants to an area with the amount of sun time that their species prefers.

If you started your scions after spring time, you will need to either mulch in or bring them indoors for their first winter. The next spring you can plant them where you desire the new tree to have a permanent home.

This method works for almost all trees and woody shrubs. If you prefer you can use the same solution for air layering your scion stock just prep the area as if you had cut the branch from the tree, wrap that area with new, clean sphagnum moss, wrap with clear plastic and tie off the bottom end, water the package with your rooting hormone solution and tie the open end shut. In a month or so you should see new white roots peaking through the sphagnum at which point you can cut the branch free and pot your new tree. Air Layering is very predictable and if you prefer, you can use the method for any tree with fairly good success rates. Fig trees can be propagated easily by either method. Pear, Peach, Plum and some nut trees respond to the cutting method. I like the motto “when in doubt, air layer”.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Posts: 1819
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
121
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To store your freshly made hormone solution place it in a tightly covered glass jar and refrigerate it will last up to a month.

Nut Trees are best Air Layered.

The best method for concentrating your fresh solution is to place a dished cover over the container you are going to heat it in, this allows a reflux type drip, it evaporates slower but all the IBA will remain in the solution.

You can use this rooting solution to water slow growing plants it will help them form more roots and thus grow better.

If you really want to give your rooting scions a jump start you can water with a B-12 solution, this can be bought or you can make your own by dissolving 2 B-12 Capsules or tablets in one quart of warm water.
This should then be diluted with one gallon of cool water before using. If you desire, you can also filter the B-12 solution through a white coffee filter or several layers of cotton, tightly woven cloth (T-shirt material or real cheese cloth).
 
Jay Angler
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Thanks for the great info. I've not done well with air layering in the past but I hadn't thought to use willow water in conjunction. I'm also guilty of not keeping a close eye that it's staying moist enough, so I need to improve there also.

Speaking of willow water, the last time I made it, I froze a bunch of it in ice-cube trays. When the cubes were frozen, I put them in a well labelled zip lock bag. That way if I brought home a cutting or two from an outing, I could thaw a couple of cubes and let it soak. Since at this time my rooting projects are very small and infrequent, the cube method has been convenient.
 
leila hamaya
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Location: northern northern california
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i've been on a major air layering/ground layering kick =)
it's fun, and i am getting much better results than with straight cuttings.
especially for certain plants, its the way to go, i think.

last winter was the first time i tried it, and based on getting pretty good results making new lime and lemon trees, i got hooked.

tried it on my passionflowers, easy peasy! and worked ! very quickly. i thought it was kinda experimental cause i did it during the hot dry time here, which shouldnt be a good time for it...but i read passionflowers can be layered in summer. it was much simpler than air layering, i just scratched up the wound, tore a piece of the outer bark off at a strategic spot, made a little trench in the soil and held the wounded area down, stuck a few rocks on it, and threw a little dirt on it. came back a month or so later and major healthy roots =)

kinda wish i had taken a photo but i was so excited to get it in its own pot....

then checked on the berries i "tip layered", or basically "ground layered" ...and got some nice thornless boysenberry to root out....very happy about that. one of them rooted on the very end of the cane, so when i cut it off, now its upside down. i put the other end in the dirt, maybe it will root on both ends...did take a picture of this one...see if i can find it...found one...this is the upside down one. i hope it can work itself out... the rocks around it show the other canes still buried...
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tip layered boysenberry
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ground layering boysenberry
 
leila hamaya
pollinator
Posts: 1106
Location: northern northern california
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then i got so psyched on that, i went around and ground layered tons of other stuff =)

i may be jumping ahead a bit, but i have been also taking mega cuttings. i planned to wait a few more weeks till it gets colder, but inspiration struck so i just took a ton of cuttings. i figure i will see how these do and then take a ton more cuttings in a few weeks to see if the timing is better, or what.

i dont usually use rooting hormones, but i would if i had any ...when i lived besides the willow trees i used to make some simple homemade willow rooting water...just by soaking willow in buckets of water. i liked having tons of live willows in my last garden, i figured they were making the willow rooting tea all on their own, when the big rains came, with just the dropped branches, right on the garden bed.
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tons of blueberry and currant cuttings +
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layered passionflower potted up
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ground layering the blueberries
 
Terry Paul Calhoun
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Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
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How about nuts, guys? Who can clone or graft black walnuts? Anyone?
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Terry Paul Calhoun wrote:How about nuts, guys? Who can clone or graft black walnuts? Anyone?


Black walnut trees are best air layered from new growth (they then root quite well and quickly) I use 6 mil clear plastic for the wrap and six slits for root formation.
Black walnut roots out with hormone in 8 weeks if the air layer is begun at the beginning of spring (April for zones 7-9).

To graft black walnut you want to take the sicon prior to bud completion, a bud graft is one of the most successful methods but it needs to be on a compatible root stock or tree (I have done black walnut on English walnut many times and only one failure).
 
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